I’m beginning to feel as though I’ve been most places in the diocese. Or, perhaps, it’s fairer to say that I’ve covered the length and breadth of the state, and I’m beginning to fill in the gaps in the map.
Our most recent visit was to St. James’, Old Town. Because it’s better than two hours from home, we went up Saturday afternoon and had the opportunity for a leisurely supper with Interim Rector George Lambert. Then, on Sunday, we had a fairly short trip to Old Town.
On most Sundays, the focus of the service is baptism or confirmation. On this Sunday it was the renewal of marriage vows for David and Jeanne Lindsay, who celebrate 50 years together this summer. What a lovely occasion and an opportunity for the rest of us to consider our commitments.
Following the service we adjourned for a gala reception and a town meeting. St. James’ is a small, but vibrant community worshiping in an historic Henry Vaughn designed church. A recent architectural review suggests the need for urgent repairs and updates at a cost of more than $1,000,000. The community is very committed to ministry and is discerning appropriate next steps.
The town meeting was lively with serious questions about new ways doing ministry and being church. The conversation covered possibilities for new relationships with other Episcopal congregations and job descriptions that include campus ministry. The community is very interested in exploring new directions. We also spent time discussing the upcoming General Convention.
The meeting with the Vestry picked up where the town meeting left off with more conversation about building issues and ministry possibilities. We talked about looking for partnerships both in the ecumenical community and beyond. I encouraged the vestry to continue explorations and look forward to future conversations. The challenges faced by St. James’ are not unique and are, perhaps, a portent of similar conversations across the diocese.